These Japanese Yaki Onigiri are simple crispy grilled rice balls that are stuffed with avocado and salted peanuts and coated in a tasty dumpling dipping sauce and sesame. They’re way easier to make than vegan sushi but so delicious thanks to their tasty crispy pan-fried rice crust on the outside while being soft on the inside. The perfect take out dish to eat on the go for lunch or as an appetizer or side dish for summer, spring, or any time of the year!
Put the rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cool running water until the water runs clear. Then drain well and transfer to a saucepan (or rice cooker). Pour in the water, cover, and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, until the liquid has been completely absorbed by the rice (if it looks too dry, add a few more tablespoons of water). Then remove from the heat and leave covered to steam for another 5-10 minutes. (Tip: Do not disturb the rice while it cooks. Leave the lid closed to ensure even cooking and do not stir!)
In the meantime, heat the rice vinegar, salt, and sugar in a small saucepan and stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
Once the rice is tender, transfer it into a bowl (preferably a wooden hangiri) and stir gently to loosen it. (Please be careful not to break the rice grains, otherwise, the rice will become mushy). Drizzle the rice vinegar mixture over it, add the nori flakes, and mix gently to combine. Cover with a damp kitchen towel which will help prevent the rice from drying out. Allow to cool completely.
Now place 1 heaped tablespoon of rice on a piece of cling foil, flattening it gently into a round shape. Add 2-3 pieces of avocado and 1 teaspoon of chopped peanuts in the middle. Cover with another tablespoon of rice, seal the foil and form into a ball. Flatten it slightly with your hands, then carefully remove the cling foil. Continue this process with the rest of the rice and filling until everything is used up.
Lightly brush the rice balls with the dipping sauce and sprinkle with a little sesame.
Heat the sesame oil in a large non-stick pan or skillet or grill. Pan-fry or grill the rice balls on each side for 3-5 minutes, or until the rice forms a crisp skin.
Serve warm or cold with the remaining dipping sauce. You can also wrap a small nori sheet around the onigiri so it’s easier to eat warm.
Please read my blog post for further information on storage, freezing, and helpful tips for cooking rice, etc.